Dev'lish Mary

The Hot Club Of Cowtown

Hightone Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Normally, I'd complain when a band continually follows the same sound which they found success with. In the case of Hot Club Of Cowtown, though, I'm willing to make an exception.

Their third album, Dev'lish Mary, continues the pattern of Western swing that they have polished over the course of the past three years, proving that not only can this style of music survive in the age of top 40, but it can thrive. (Okay, so it's not topping the charts; the fact that it is still with us is testament enough for me.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

New bassist/vocalist Matt Weiner joins guitarist/vocalist Whit Smith and fiddle/vocalist Elana Fremerman, and though I sometimes wish his work had been boosted a bit in the mix, he seems to fit in well with the remainder of the trio stylewise.

The key word to Dev'lish Mary this time around is "fun". Admittedly, you need to have an appreciation of old-style country music to get what Hot Club Of Cowtown is doing, but if you're so blessed, you're in for a good time with this disc.

The trio tackles a wide variety of music, from the public domain gems such as "Devil's Dream" and "Little Liza Jane" to even challenging the listener with a cover of Hoagie Carmichael's "Stardust," featuring Fremerman's fiddle work (which is, to say the least, impressive).

Tracks such as "It's My Lazy Day," "When The Bloom Is On The Sage," "I'd Understand Why" and the title track all show that Hot Club Of Cowtown are masters of this style of music, and the disc is enough to keep a smile on your face throughout. The 16 tracks seem to fly by - unless, I guess, you're not into country music.

The band even welcomes some guest musicians on the album - and while I appreciate the touches that steel guitarist Bobby Koefer, cornet player Peter Ecklund and yodeler Don Walser add, sometimes I still found myself wishing that I was only listening to the trio, who pack enough of a musical punch on their own.

Dev'lish Mary is the latest delight from Hot Club Of Cowtown, and is sure to please fans of this particular genre. Although they stick to the basic formula which has worked for them, they do take some chances this time around... fortunately, they all work well.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hightone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.